As the 700s rolled into the 800s, the greatest man in the world was Charlemagne, king of the Franks and Holy Roman Emperor. Having gained control of most of Western Europe, he set himself to reform the legal, judicial, and military systems of his empire. He established schools and promoted Christianity; and in his capital, scholars and saints gathered from across Europe.
Among them was Theodulf. He was about 50 years old in 800, and he possessed an established reputation as churchman, poet, and scholar. Charlemagne made him bishop of Orleans in Spain, and Theodulf traveled widely, taking part in the great events of the empire. Upon the death of Alcuin, Charlemagne’s “Secretary of Education,” Theodulf advanced to that position. Unfortunately, Theodulf’s fortunes died when Charlemagne did. Accused by the new emperor of treason, he was imprisoned. He maintained his innocence and was pardoned in 818; but he died shortly afterward and was buried on September 19, 821.
Theodulf worked vigorously to provide the clergy with a good education. Among his books is Directions to the Priests of the Diocese, in which he issued maxims such as these:
• No woman is allowed to live in the house with a priest.
• Priests must not get drunk or frequent taverns.
• Priests must teach everyone the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostle’s Creed.
• Daily, honest confession of sins to God ensures pardon.
• True charity consists in the union of good deeds with a virtuous life.
Theodulf of Orleans is best remembered, however, for his beautiful hymn Gloria, Laus et Honor, which has been sung every Palm Sunday for over 1,000 years in churches around the world: All glory, laud, and honor / To Thee, Redeemer, King, / To whom the lips of children / Make sweet hosannas ring: / Thou art the King of Israel, / Thou David’s royal Son, / Who in the Lord’s name comest, / The King and blessed one!
Many people spread clothes in the road, while others put down branches which they had cut from trees. Some people walked ahead of Jesus and others followed behind. They were all shouting, “Hooray for the Son of David! God bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hooray for God in heaven above!” (Matthew 21:8,9)
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). Sept. 19.
*Header by By Manfred Heyde – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3059048